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Introduction to Blockchain, Smart Contracts, and NFTs | ITEC.807

Introduction to Blockchain, Smart Contracts, and NFTs | ITEC.807

While most of the hype around blockchain has centered on cryptocurrency, the promise of blockchain technology is much broader. A blockchain is a distributed system with a distributed shared datastore, sometimes called a distributed ledger, supporting cryptographically verifiable transactions. When paired with smart contracts, blockchains provide a way of creating a distributed web of trust for specific applications where cooperation is needed between participants who may not have reason to trust each other in general.

In this course, we’ll take an introductory look at blockchains, smart contracts, distributed identity management, and nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

Learning Outcomes
At the conclusion of the course, you should be able to

  • Explain what a blockchain is, the underlying technologies, and what makes it different from a centralized database
  • Compare three major blockchain platforms: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Hyperledger
  • Understand what a dapp is, how Solidity programming language is used to construct dapps, and how to write a simple “Hello world!” dapp
  • Explain what a distributed identifier and verifiable credential is and how they can be used in applications
  • Explain the difference between a fungible and nonfungible token and what kinds of applications are approrpriate for each type of token
  • Provide appropriate use cases for implementing with blockchain technology

Topics Include

  • Fundamental technologies underlying blockchain systems, including cryptography and distributed consensus
  • How technologies come together to make a blockchain
  • Smart contracts and how they turn blockchain into a platform for constructing distributed applications (dapps)
  • Permissioned and permissionless distributed ledgers: What they are and what classes of application they best support
  • Dedicated smart contract programming languages and program development environments: how to develop a dapp
  • Distributed identifiers and verifiable credentials: Leveraging blockchain technology to identify and assign cryptographically verifiable attributes to people and things
  • Tokens and applications of token economics, including NFTs
  • Example blockchain applications on permissioned and permissionless distributed ledgers

Prerequisite Skills

Students should have a basic understanding of computer systems security. Some familiarity with blockchain applications and cryptocurrency, at a high level, would also be helpful. Basic blockchain technology will be reviewed at the beginning of the course.

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Estimated Cost: TBD

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